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This review contains spoilers

Over the past few years, I’ve used a plethora of positive adjectives to describe Dark Souls. Deep, rich, revolutionary, challenging, spell-binding, sublime, life-affirming: these words only scratch the surface of the exaltation I’ve given to FromSoft’s seminal action-RPG series. However, one delectable description I would NEVER earnestly give Dark Souls under any context is cute. Actually, the franchise is fairly grotesque. The franchise prides itself on upholding a grim, pensive atmosphere marked by the immense decay of the game’s world and all of its inhabitants with little hopeful reprieve. Gigantic, rabid rats, Blighttown swamp ogres, the demons residing in the volcanic ruins, to the often emaciated state of the main protagonist will all turn off each player’s collective appetites. Don’t even get me started on the pulpy, arcane grotesqueries from Dark Soul’s gothic cousin Bloodborne. In the more sexual context of the word cute, I can’t think of a better example of a moment in gaming that made everyone’s penises retract in fear and disgust like an alarmed hermit crab than the reveal of the bottom half of the supermodel spider beast Quelaag. It’s as if the developers were pulling a sick prank on the player, swiftly reminding them that nothing in Dark Souls is pretty or pristine. Fortunately, Dark Souls doesn’t have to be cute, for the impact the series has had seems to translate its idiosyncratic mechanics rather than its aesthetic attributes. Indie developer Finji decided to see what “cute Dark Souls” would look like with their 2022 title Tunic, and it translates fairly well.
I should also add that Tunic takes more than a liberal helping of elements from The Legend of Zelda as well. This second parent in Tunic’s genetic code shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the article of clothing is the dress of choice for the plucky fox protagonist depicted on the game’s cover art, mirroring the hero of time’s iconic wardrobe like an excitable kid on Halloween. Besides The Fox’s outfit as a cheeky reference to Link, Tunic’s gameplay is a marriage between Dark Souls and Zelda, which is a concise relationship because Dark Souls comprises plenty of Zelda’s gameplay attributes itself. However, I did say that Tunic’s gameplay featured a fusion from both series as opposed to sedimentary layers building onto Zelda’s gameplay supporting its descendants at the bottom. Tunic borrows the Soulslike combat, level design, and difficulty curve, but what does Zelda contribute to the game’s foundation? Tunic’s developers seem to have dipped their feet into the classic Zelda philosophy of relatively free-reign exploration, a significant mark that divides the top-down 2D games and the more linear, narrative-focused 3D titles. With this slurry of gameplay elements, the developers evidently wished to craft Tunic as a sprawling adventure title with thin limitations on roaming around the intricate world that is filled to the brim with surprises.
While Tunic’s influences are an important factor in its general makeup, my starting thesis on this game was based on how it formulated something adorable from the Dark Souls foundation that was originally glum and twistedly malformed. From the first screen of Tunic, it should be obvious how the game’s art direction diverges from any aesthetical property in Dark Souls. The fantasy land of Tunic’s setting looks like it's composed entirely of rubber along with its inhabitants but in a child-like bouncy castle way instead of its grayish organic material. It’s a wonder that enemies don’t make squeaking sounds upon being struck by The Fox’s sword. Everything from the assorted trees and tall grasses, to the steep hills, and towering structures resemble the pieces of an intricate playset. It’s reminiscent of the cartoonishly bulbous visual style Nintendo implemented for the Link’s Awakening remake on the Switch, except that Tunic doubles down on consistently depicting everything with a cherubic tint as opposed to only certain elements. Yet, all of the arcane edifices across Tunic’s world still seem grand and imposing. Tunic’s art direction strikes a tasteful balance between the strikingly sublime and the endearingly whimsical. Also, The Fox who vicariously gives the player a grand tour of this world is definitely a contender for the cutest video game protagonist next to Kirby, Yoshi, and Yoku from Yoku’s Island Express. While the visual aspects of Tunic are obviously constructed to make the game look charmingly adorable, the game’s atmosphere surprisingly exudes an ethereal mystique. Because a game that features such soft, spongy aesthetics carries this sense of wonder, it shows that Tunic’s presentation has layers.
Tunic’s taking of Zelda’s sense of exploration is readily apparent from the starting screen. The fox awakens on a beachy shore with zero context of where he is with less of a clue of which direction to take. What the player can figure out for themselves is they are in dire need of a weapon to defend themselves with, as the flopping land tadpoles and the piggish, Ganon-esque knights seen in the overworld are not the friendly sorts. This first quest to procure one’s means of both offense and defense should provoke memories of the first Legend of Zelda title, as Link is dropped into the fray of Hyrule without the necessary tools to survive. Or, it could also conjure up recollections of the Chosen Undead scurrying around the boss in the Northern Undead Asylum before being granted weapons, an opening sequence that is most certainly influenced by the initial state of vulnerability from the first Zelda game. Unlike both games, there isn’t an old man in a nearby cave to pass off his sword out of concern, nor are his devices in the close quarters of an enclosed area like the asylum in Dark Souls. The Fox has to make do with a pitiable stick as his first weapon before reaching the sacred grounds of the sword, and he doesn’t obtain his shield to accompany the sword on his opposite hand until after the first boss is defeated. The supplementary length to obtain the sword and shield is indicative of Tunic’s habit of keeping the player in the dark. Tunic is intentionally cryptic like classic Zelda and Dark Souls, but Tunic seems to amplify the esoteric elements to an absurd degree. On top of having the player roam around the map like a buzzing fly due to a lack of direction, the developers have pulled a Christian Vander (the drummer and leader of the French progressive rock band Magma) and constructed their own language to detail the game’s various attributes. Don’t bother breaking out the Rosetta Stone because it’s all a mesh of cuneiform hieroglyphics that even the developers couldn’t decipher. Of course, this chicken scratch gibberish purposefully obscures any context clues to maintain that aura of ambiguity. Because the game tears away at any hope of easy answers, every step in Tunic can be super miscalculated. I mostly appreciate the effort to foster a relatively non-linear environment ala Zelda 1, but some aspects of this direction aren’t accommodating. Because Tunic features a fixed wide-view camera perspective, it’s difficult for the player to peek at cracks to excavate in the 3D landscape, and some of them are pertinent paths to progression. Also, whenever The Fox does find himself in a cramped crevice, the silhouette the player sees doesn’t really aid in guiding them through it. Meticulously looking for the right path is difficult enough on its own.
How does one have any hope to navigate through the world of Tunic if everything seems so obtuse? Pressing the select button will pop up the game’s manual, a 56-page guide to conquering every challenge and uncovering every hidden secret. Once again, a sweet wash of nostalgia should rush through any player of a certain age because the in-game manual is an homage to the physical manuals, magazine walkthroughs, and strategy guides that gamers of yore were forced to seek out when a game threw them for a loop. The manual’s pages are strewn across Tunic’s overworld as a core collectible, and each page is stacked with hints from head-to-toe on the intricacies found in the game. It sounds like a blessing, but the rotten caveat is that most of the manual’s contents are written in the developer’s made-up mumbo-jumbo language. The manual’s details regarding the thorough history of the game’s lore, information on the various trinkets and goodies, and how to navigate through the more sprawling area of the hub and its surroundings are muddled in linguistic nonsense. Some of the contents of the manual have splotches of English so the player doesn’t have to discern the tips and tricks solely by visual context. Gee, thanks, developers. Now I’ll breeze through this game in no time. Also, a virtual manual does not translate to the same kind of utility that a physical manual did, as it’s quicker to bookmark a notable page and open it while playing a game instead of flipping through pages with the D-pad. At the end of the day, the utility of the manual is negated by the advent of the internet, the destroyer of all antiquated larks that were not available at the time when physical gaming aid was relevant. Whether or not you believe the manual is useful or not, one still can’t deny that it features some gorgeous illustrations.
Still, the manual does adequately depict each step of the game’s progression, albeit construed in an asinine manner. The fox’s first primary quest is to ring two colossal bells on opposite sides of the map. Sound familiar? As if swiping the combat and the cryptic exploration from Dark Souls wasn’t enough, Tunic also copies the game’s first quest as well. No, the player will not witness what Quelaag would look like as a buxom balloon animal complete with tasteful censorship before ringing the second bell. In fact, traveling from one side of the map to the other doesn’t display the same type of descending progression that made the bell-ringing quest from Dark Souls so invigorating either. What keeps Tunic from plunging into the cheap imitation territory is that it has constructed the same type of level progression. I’ve always been in awe of how each area of any FromSoft-developed Soulslike game treats progression and checkpoints, and it’s even more impressive when another developer implements them competently. From the starting point of an area’s shrine, Tunic’s rendition of the bonfires, checkpoints are technically dispersed via shortcuts. The fox will unlatch bridges and unlock doors after a certain point to use indefinitely if the challenges prove to be too hectic and he dies as a result. The player is met with the same level of satisfaction and relief skating past former obstacles along the way to the goal in the exact same way it’s presented in Dark Souls. As for the second quest involving procuring three differently colored jewels to open a gate, this quest is seen across so many games that no one can determine its origin point (although both Zelda and Dark Souls feature a similar quest quite often).
One thing that Tunic leaves alone is the RPG mechanics from Dark Souls. The Fox will leave behind the remnants of his mortal shell at his last place of dying, but recovering it only replenishes a small sum of money lost. Still, the gold and blue doubloons are valuable because The Fox will need a heaping amount of items to use at his disposal. Many of the items can be found in treasure chests on the field, but the player will most likely burn through them and have to purchase them from the skeletal spirit merchant found in the overworld’s windmill. It’s with this aspect of the game that the Zelda influence eclipses Dark Souls, for the plethora of items The Fox has in its inventory is meant to diversify combat and puzzle solving as opposed to being nifty in slight circumstances in Dark Souls. The phantom merchant sells offensive weapons such as firebombs and dynamite so that The Fox can blast away at groups of enemies from afar, while the freeze bomb can be used to subdue stronger singular enemies by encasing them in a coat of ice for a brief period. Fruits of the plum and berry variety restore health and magic respectively, while the more elusive hot pepper increases The Fox’s attack power. For my money, the most useful item the merchant has in stock is the decoy doll, which enemies will center on with as much focus as a cat has for a laser pointer. All of these items are meant to supplement the primary sword weapon, while the other primary weapons The Fox obtains could arguably replace the sword. The player could easily swap all of their melee eggs into the magic basket after a certain point in the game. The Magic Staff pelts enemies with an abundant amount of energy bullets while the ice daggers can freeze enemies just as effectively as the ice bomb item. Eventually, The Fox will come across a shotgun to blast away enemies with magic power at close range, and yes, the image of wee little Fox using a shotgun is as hilariously mismatched as it sounds. The Grapple Hook’s usage for traversal is fairly self-explanatory if you’ve ever played even one Zelda game, but it can also be used to lasso in enemies who annoyingly insist on attacking at long range. With one of the ability cards, the player can swap their health-restoring potions for mana restoration. The choice of magic over melee is as close as Tunic gets to a role-playing option with combat, and the pervasive range of magic items present here helped me escape my melee build comfort zone I usually abide by in Soulslike games. It reminds me more of Zelda because those games encourage using everything the player has at their disposal, while Dark Souls usually forces the player to be faithful to one play style.
I had to diversify my playstyle in Tunic more drastically because the game’s bosses are the true sources of agonizing defeat. Enemies in Tunic vary in viciousness, but each boss is a bitch and a half. The Guard Captain is a gigantic copy of his tinier minions The Fox has been fighting, so dealing with him is a cakewalk. However, the mighty mechanical duo of the Garden Knight and Siege Engine The Fox fights sequentially serve as the game’s first steep roadblocks. I blame the fixed camera for my lack of peripheral reference when it comes to dodge rolling, and shielding their attacks totally depletes all of my stamina. Soulslike bosses are challenging enough, but approaching them in Tunic in the same fashion when one’s sword and shield cannot be upgraded or replaced should be reconsidered. The offerings The Fox makes to increase his stats only do so much. This is why alternating between melee and magic is so important to succeeding with Tunic’s combat, and this especially became the case for the later bosses. The Librarian located at the peak of the Great Library barely gave me any opportunities to strike him with the sword due to him constantly hovering over the perilous arena, and the leaders of the Scavengers kept darting away from my attacks with great swiftness. Becoming accustomed to dealing out brute force and waves of magic akimbo style proved to be the only permissible method of success with Tunic’s bosses, and this mixed direction that I wasn’t used to in Dark Souls made every win a little more gratifying.
I’ve established that Tunic has substantially emulated so many properties from Dark Souls, but what about the series pension for grim outcomes to resolve an adventure? For as cute as the game is, is it merely an enchanting ruse for the game to make the gut punch of a finale more visceral? In a way, this is indeed the case. The central lore figure of Tunic’s world is the incorporeal, cerulean fox housed in the central chamber of the overworld’s map. Dividing the tall, golden doors with the first quest and placing the colored keys in the arcane contraption with the second unveil the solid layers to the apparition at the center. The towering blue fox dressed in a satin gown known as The Heir is the game’s final boss, but she is not to be faced immediately. She strikes down our hero with a swipe of her potent blade, and The Fox is reduced to a ghostly form. After this intentional failure, the spirits of the land’s former foxes hang around the grounds as the fox travels to various memorial sights of these former foxes to regain his strength in the increments of the five increasable assets. He can fight The Heir with the reduced stats he has at hand, but only the foolish would dare to do so. In fact, it’s recommended that the player take their time to exhaustively search for every one of the game’s collectibles in this purgatorial state because putting in the extra effort will mitigate fighting the final boss. If the player collects every page of the game’s manual, approaching The Heir again will result in her accepting the manual with a similar sense of glee and pride like a child gifting something hand-crafted on Mother’s Day. Completing the manual is still a bafflingly difficult task with having to dissect each of the game’s hidden codes with the “Holy Cross” (the D-pad, if that wasn’t clear). The recitable Konami code, these ain’t. Conversely, coming home empty-handed will prompt The Heir to attack with sheer force. This two-phased boss will use rapid sword swipes, energy bursts, and an unhealthy dosage of the glowing, purple corruption matter found in the Quarry to reduce The Fox’s health bar to the size of a fingernail. Tunic doesn’t offer an easy outcome either way, but I still recommend seeking out the pages for a better ending. Curing The Heir is a more interesting ending rather than the recycled Dark Souls resolution of becoming the new martyr in a cyclical process to uphold the new world, which is what happens when The Heir is defeated. Considering how the game looks, I could use something more heartwarming to cap it off.
Transforming Dark Souls into something adorably winsome was the easy aspect of Tunic. Translating all of the properties from the series was the real meat of the matter, and Tunic seems to have processed them efficiently. Still, the extent to which Tunic goes about showcasing these properties gets a tad irksome, especially in regards to obscuring information with nonsensical language along with the clashing perspective that comes with a fixed camera. Also, as the game progressed, it became evident that Tunic borrowed so much from Dark Souls that the game almost literally became Dark Souls with only a visual discernibility. The classic Zelda influence with its loose exploration limits and item management are the saving graces in Tunic that keep it from being a Dark Souls pastiche, only with a cuddly world instead of a gnarly one. At least Tunic seems to have a profound understanding of what makes Dark Souls effective, so I still left Tunic with the same sense of satisfaction.

This review contains spoilers

As a preface, I will restate what everyone else says about this game, which is that its best played knowing as little as possible about it beforehand. The game experience inherently works due to how it teaches the player about the world and its mechanics, and knowing any of this information beforehand cheapens the game experience significantly. Spoilers ahead.
The game wears its influences on its sleeves to the point where I almost overlooked this game as one of those "indie games that is just a well made recreation of a retro game the creator liked as a kid". Tunic is obviously Zelda inspired, but I was surprised by how much it felt like a soulslike game. I feel that the game surpasses its influences however, due to the unique way the game teaches the player mechanics through the in-game manual. As you explore the world there are many moments where you learn something about it that recontextualizes everything you've seen before in a way that feels unique to this game. For me there were probably at least 3 points in the game where it felt like the "real game" was finally starting due to this (those being the hunt for the 3 keys, the event that occurs after you die to the heir, and the hunt for the true ending).
One of my favorite moments in the game was the descent into the rooted ziggurat, and almost everything after that point. I'm not sure if there's anything gating the player from going there in the beginning but I think for most people the blue key is the last one they will get. Here's just a simple list of some of the reasons I think this section of the game is brilliant.
- For almost every area before this point, you're given a map of the area before going there. Wandering into this area without any guide as to what to expect beforehand adds a lot to the feeling that you've arrived somewhere you're not supposed to be.
- Lots of scripted events and imagery add to the oppressive atmosphere of the area, along with the fact that your character is constantly descending deeper into the area.
- The normal checkpoints being replaced with their techy variants makes it so that even the places where the player can expect respite feel foreign and strange.
- The boss awaiting you at the end of this area is my favorite in the game. It's one of those well-made mirror matchup style bosses where they have access to lots of similar moves to you, so beating them really feels like you've outwitted and outskilled them.
- Due to this likely being the last area you go to before the fight with the heir that turns the world to shit, it emphasizes the feeling that you've learned something about the world you shouldn't have/done something you shouldn't have.
This section of the game is so good I think I would've given the game a high rating even if it wasn't consistently good throughout.
I'd also like to take a moment to talk about the combat system of the game. The combat is a soulslike-style melee combat experience involving locking onto enemies, utilizing well-timed dodges and enemy windows of vulnerability to punish. What makes Tunic unique is its extreme take on stamina management. In dark souls running out of stamina means you have to wait an extra half second for it to start going up again before you can dodge or attack, as these actions can be done as long as you have any stamina. In Tunic, when you run out of stamina all your defensive options are nerfed until your stamina goes above a high threshold. I like this system a lot as it emphasizes more methodical use of defensive tools in order to succeed in combat, and punishes the player otherwise. Since attacking doesn't cost stamina the system is designed to reward the player for managing their stamina by only using well-timed dodges as opposed to spamming rolls to gap close or cheese their way through certain attacks. At first it feels very punishing as running out of stamina in a boss fight usually means you just lose, but once you learn how to better manage it, fights become significantly easier.
As for many of the puzzles in the world, I don't think I really have anything unique to say about them other than finding them and solving them was very satisfying, especially the final big puzzle at the end of the game. I had a great time with this game and I would recommend it to anyone.

Muito fofo, so nao entendi muito a história.

Tiene un diseño inteligentísimo porque te dicen cómo resolver los desafíos pero sin que te enteres, el diseño de niveles es casi perfecto por este motivo.
El rollo metanarrativo con el manual y el idioma del propio juego es tremendo.
Absolutamente todo en este juego desde el principio al final encaja perfectamente, de lo mejor que he jugado últimamente.

A genuine elevation of the medium. I'd be surprised if I played a better game from 2022.

Funny little fox game :D
That thing. It's everywhere. It's in the clouds, in the paper, in the motion of the entities, between the cracks, the wind!?, am I one as well?

I mean I can definitely see the appeal for this game, it's just not for me. I found myself getting lost a few times, and honestly sometimes I was just like "what is even going on." I know some people adore this game, and that's cool, but it's just not for me.

Difficulty: Medium
Overall Playtime: ~15 hours
100% Completion
Gameplay: 3/5
Narrative: 3/5
Art Direction/Graphics: 3.5/5
Music: 3/5
Creativity: 5/5
Overall Score: 3.5/5

The best way to describe this game would be "what if your uncle came back from a trip to japan and bought you a used famicom game you never heard about". It somehow perfectly replicate the experience of having no idea or context about what you're doing and you have to learn by trial and error, as well as guessing what the pictures in the manual are trying to convey.
That being said it's not all perfect. First of all I think the combat system was ok for a Zelda-like game. Not very deep, not very difficult. Enemies are just there as a distraction and not really a challenge.... until the game wanted to bad to be dark souls that it starts throwing unfair stuff at you. You CANNOT attempt to have a difficult souls-like combat with absolutely none of the depth from the actual game. Your options are so limited and overcoming the challenge isn't satisfying in the slightest. I'd rather focus on the exploration and brain teaser.
Speaking of brain teaser: the alphabet system is really cool and I gave it a shot at deciphering it. However i simply couldn't do it for the life of me. After attempting it for hours I gave up and looked it up online. Not a big deal if it was just flavor text, but it really soured the entire experience when the last 2 secret treasures absolutely required it in order to 100% finish the game. There is no cheeky subtle hints to do without it like all the other puzzles.
Still, one of the best game I've ever played.

Solid Souls/Zelda like, great progression, has great skips, has fun abilities and weapons, boss fights are great. Loved it all the way though

I may circle back around to giving this another shot but I had a really hard time squaring my love for everything that wasn't the combat with the combat, which sucks complete ass. like imagine if the controls in Souls games were half as responsive as they are and also you couldn't move the camera. and the game having bad combat would honestly be fine, i'm willing to put up with a lot if a game is at least interesting, except there's such an emphasis on it, and i don't know why when the heart of the game is so obviously in exploration and discovery. real disappointment.

Tunic is exceptional.
The combat is simple but demanding, the puzzles are incredibly clever, and its wrapped in a truly beautiful package.
Go in blind, it's definitely worth your time.

pretty fun level design and combat and then if you want the true ending you have to think like a conspiracy theorist who believes the moon makes things cold

I really liked how a lot of the mechanics of the game are purposefully obscured. It made navigating the game world a lot of fun. There were a lot of moments where I obtained a new page, figured out some new mechanic of some sorts, recognized some kind of graphic or symbol from an earlier page, which led me on a huge scavenger hunt trying to navigate this strange world and find the things I noticed. I liked those moments a lot.
Unfortunately, didn't much care for the combat. It's just your cookie-cutter "souls" combat in a game that... didn't really need it? Some bosses were very frustrating, and in a game where the fun little discoveries were what I liked, getting railroaded into memorizing some big guy's moveset waned on my patience a bit...
I beat the final boss and apparently got the bad ending - you have to collect all of the pages to get the true ending, apparently. I didn't really bother. Had a few leads to follow, but I felt kind of "secreted" out by that point. Maybe a better fast travel system would have helped motivate me more.

Tunic is a well designed and fun action-adevneture game. The art design is adorable and contains a lot of lore and gameplay hints.
This game is difficult though, the boss fights really require skill improvements. While this is a feature I definitely want from my games, the early gameplay and style caught me off-guard.
I played through a large chunk of the game in a short time and then lost the drive after not playing for a couple of weeks. I'd probably now have to start again to get back into it.

AMAZING and cryptic story with charming ememys and characters,,,, combat is very smooth and rewarding after learning to parry....

This review contains spoilers

i played this over a year ago and got the bad ending; i promised i'd come back to it to get the other one and i decided a few days ago that that time had finally come. now that i'm on the other side, i can safely say that this is one of the greatest games i've ever played.
tunic made me fall in love with video games all over again.

This review contains spoilers

I'm not gonna do a proper review for this so here's some bullet point thoughts:
+ I love the 'mini Souls-like' feel I get with this, very much akin to Death's Door too. Most of Tunic really feels like you're uncovering some forgotten mystery as it slowly reveals itself to you
+ Music is gorgeous, and this is personal preference but it's exactly the kind of electronic music I love to see in games. Low-key when it wants to be but memorable and melodic at the same time, extremely evocative.
+ The instruction manual and The Golden Path is in principle a very cool way to both teach you about the game's world, give hints about future parts of the game and later become a puzzle in itself.
+ Exploring the world feels genuinely rewarding as you naturally find shortcuts and exploits that make it feel less formidable. Even with the instruction manual there's little to no hand-holding, which is very refreshing.
- The art style feels a little 'over-cooked' sometimes. This is especially egregious when the fuzzy tilt-shift effect ruins some of the wider vistas the game obviously wants to show me (e.g. via the telescopes), and the amount of bright bloomy textures can become really distracting at times.
- The final quarter/third of the game sees the pace grind to a halt as it shifts from being primarily an action-adventure to purely secret-hunting. It feels like a completely different game at this point and felt more tedious than interesting, for me. I would've preferred to see these more cryptic puzzle elements peppered throughout the game rather than all becoming essential right at the end of the game. (I know you collect the instruction manual as you go, but as far as the Golden Path etc. goes it's really not apparent until the end)
- The ending itself feels a little rushed and anti-climactic if you only go for the Golden Path, which ends the game with little fanfare (especially if you didn't try to fight the Heir first)

Unforgiving difficulty, no directions, no hand-holding...just an untranslated manual with missing pages offering tips and hints as to what the player must do. You'll be hard pressed to find an exploration adventure that truly tests your explorative skills and really throws you into a fantastical world of challenge and secrets. Genuinely brilliant game design.
The difficulty curve is punishing, but if you can get passed that you're in for a true 'The Legend of Zelda' experience.

It seems it is just a mid game at the begginning, then somehting happens and you understand. You realize you're playing on of the game that if was popular enough could've made the history of the media. Then if you are not satisfied with the main game you can try to open that door. If you menage to do that you become a png of a guy made of galaxies that trascend into the universe with nebula eyes in background and achieve inner peace.

This game will very likely make you say "Holy shit, I could have just done that the whole time?" more than once. Your first playthrough will be very different from subsequent ones, and you should take pride in that.
...though I'll admit I dropped off when the second half began. The combat was just that frustrating for me.

De primeira parece apenas um jogo zelda like, porém ele tem muito mais que isso, e um sistema de puzzle mais genial que eu já vi, JOGUE IMEDIATAMENTE

Narrative: 3.5
Gameplay: 4
Graphics: 5
X-Factor: 5+1
Overall: 4.5

Have not played a game that has made me feel like a fish out of water. The exception being Outer Wilds. Although having knowledge from games like it, the way this game has secret mechanics you learn by picking up the instruction book pieces is great. It truly feels like the world opens up and slowly makes more sense the more you play

A Ship of Theseus held together by shallow references to greener pastures-- Tunic serves as a reminder that form towers over function in the eyes of many.
Tunic, I've found, serves as a sort of Rorschach test.
You probably discovered it like I did, at one of the many directs that every company seems to throw these days. There are enough out there that it makes my head spin: Sony State of Play, Nintendo Direct, Xbox Developer Direct, Summer Games Fest, Capcom Showcase, Ubisoft Forward, Annapurna Interactive Showcase, Limited Run Games Showcase, Tribeca Games Showcase, EA Play, Devolver Direct, and of course, the titan above them all: the almighty Wholesome direct.
I'm being cheeky rattling off every single one, but consider this for a moment: do you remember where you first saw Tunic? It popped up at a lot of these directs--hell it's probably popped up more than any other game ever has. And considering its seemingly endless promotion followed by immediate success both critically (just having won a DICE award at the time of writing) as well as commercially, it's easy to see Tunic as one of the newest flagbearers for the indie games movement.
But back to the Rorschach test. When you saw one of those thirty direct trailers, what did you think? Did it seem cool? Cute? Atmospheric? Challenging? Or…god forbid…comfy? Your instant reaction to Tunic says a lot about you…But I'll leave that thought as an exercise for you. Well, you and some other loquacious (now that's a billion-dollar word) reviewer. One that'll cite 18th century Irish philosophers and end the rantreview by calling you a pervert for enjoying the game or something. I won't know your secrets, but I'll tell you mine: I thought Tunic looked like derivative trite that masked its shortcomings behind a cheap veneer of cute nostalgia.
And so, at least for this review, I've become that guy.
You know the one.
The guy who dislikes the games you love. The dude unwilling to hear your game out on any level, even on its greatest strengths. They'll boil down everything you adore about a game into saying something like "it's just Dark Souls meets Earthbound." Don't you just hate that pedantic bastard? I know I do.
So take heart. I'll give Tunic some credit before we begin the fireworks. The game looks nice--at least at a surface level. The music is fine in a vacuum (but even then, it hardly carries a sense of adventure). And beyond that…I suppose the game is all-around functional. I didn't fall through any floors, nor did the game actively try to murder me in real life--which is a plus. Finji and director Andrew Shouldice haven't congratulated my playthrough by mailing me a pipe bomb…although God help me if they ever manage to read this review. In total, you aren't getting scammed out of your money if you buy Tunic, but I'm sure you already knew that.
I recognize that it's a very low bar I’m setting here...but if you asked me if there was anything I actually liked about Tunic…then the answer would be a definitive No. There's really only things that I so deeply hate.
But still, much like how Halo and Manhunt share the same 'M' rating, I wouldn't say that Tunic deserves as much ire as say, Bioshock Infinite or Final Fantasy XIII do. After all, you can only hate a bad indie game so much. It's not like tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of overworked manhours were wasted here. There's nothing insidious or despicable here from a commercial standpoint. One guy started this project wanting to make his dream a reality--and after several hard years (plus the assistance of a small publisher) he (well, by this point, they) made the dream come true. And that's fine and all, good for them. But there are still many things that I find Tunic stands for in the greater context of the gaming--particularly indie gaming--ecosystem we live in. Both on the side of those who create, as well as those consume and critique…and I guess also the bastards who put on 'directs' too. I might not take issue with the director of the game (please don't mail me a pipe bomb), but the rest of this, I will take issue with.
To start, we should probably deal with the elephant in the room: originality.
It's a given that art shouldn’t have to strive towards pure innovation. Everything we create was inspired by someone else's work. And even before there were artists to take inspiration from, our ancestors merely imitated the natural world around them. Sure, there are those special works that do change the game, but you and I understand the gaussian nature of art: if everything was "special," nothing would be.
So every game can be boiled down to "Skyrim with guns." But good art--the stuff worth going out of your way for--still needs something special about it. There has to be something to separate it from its artistic realtives, even if it ultimately fails to escape its influences.
And it's here that the Rorschach test kicks in again.
Clearly this isn't a hang-up for many people--developers and players alike. How many Castlevania, Mega Man, Dark Souls, Animal Crossing, and yes, Zelda-likes have you seen next to Tunic at these online events? Were you excited for that new quirky Earthbound inspired RPG with a dark edge? That wasn't a rhetorical question: were you? Because if so…that's fine. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Stop reading this review and go play Tunic, you'd probably enjoy it. And that's a good thing. You should enjoy more things--provided you aren't getting anyone killed in the process.
But for those of you who are like me--scratching their heads at why someone would want to play a worse version of an extant classic--then you probably also see Tunic as one of the most desperate indie games of the lot. Everything about it--from a surface (and therefore marketable) level--was custom-fit to make you think of better games. For Christ sake just think about the title of the game. Take a look at its box art, it's on this very same webpage right now! I haven't seen an indie game this transparent since the developers of Oddity flat-out named their project Mother 4. It's clear as day that Shouldice wants you to think of Zelda when you buy his game--so I'll be thinking about that while I review it too.
Once you actually see the game in motion, you'd very quickly understand Tunic's other major design pillar: Dark Souls. Not even just in terms of combat--parries, dodge rolls and all that--but instead also in terms of narrative design, world building, and holistic gameplay design too. Hell, if it were just knocking off the dodge rolls, then I'd only charge it with the misdemeanor of ripping off Bastion. But merely taking minor inspiration isn't quite Tunic's style. We are stripping the walls down to the copper here.
Hints on How to Destroy Creativity
So yes, Tunic is in essence Dark Souls meets Zelda, with some other obvious influences thrown in as well. You might think this combination is sensible--both are fantasy/action-adventure games after all--but closer scrutinization reveals fatal problems when merging the two.
First and foremost is a sense of tone. Dark Souls and Zelda might belong to the same genre when you squint, but they are polar opposites in holistic presentation. Sure, graphics and art style are one obvious comparison, but we can go further than that. Zelda games are often beloved for their quirky and memorable NPC cast while Souls games are mainly (and intentionally) devoid of life beyond a scant few characters. There's certainly been a few NPCs that have managed to gain traction--you can probably guess the one in particular I'm thinking about, but you're mainly playing a Souls game to experience the lack of community, not the presence of it. Compare that to iconic Zelda titles like Wind Waker or Majora's Mask and you'll start to see the point here. Even Breath of the Wild, which clearly takes after Souls games, still has a metric ton of NPCs and character interactions that drive a clean narrative.
Tunic is taking from Dark Souls here wholesale--meaning we're dead-on-arrival when it comes to building a real sense of the 'world' or the characters that occupy it. Locations are primarily empty and filled with text we can't understand (well, without a lot of elbow grease, but we'll get to that later). If you're lucky you might also find an NPC... who you also can't understand.
The entire world of Tunic feels incredibly sparse and dull as a consequence. It certainly doesn't help that it's lacking in the depth of lore that keeps a Souls game interesting and, more importantly atmospheric. I don't feel like I'm trawling through the solemn ruins of a civilization fallen from grace--piecing together the forgotten past like an archeologist wandering onto Troy. Instead, I feel like I'm wandering through a legion of half-empty rooms fit for nothing but tedious dodge rolling.
The game also fails to capture any true sense of 'adventure' that most beloved Zelda games have. Without any characters or clearly understood stakes to drive us, there's no real motivation for most of the game's runtime. Are we saving the world? Saving 'the princess?' Protecting our friends? Finding ourselves? There's just nothing. What little drive we do get comes too little and too late--a decision that feels more like rubbing salt in the wound than anything else. Even the original The Legend of Zelda gave us a text crawl and a plot insert in the manual to prep players for (what was at the time) a grand adventure. Tunic instead opts to backload everything way past the point of initial interest…all in the name of preserving its godawful manual…A manual that we'll get to in due time.
The Legend of Zelda ABCs
But now that I've described in world of Tunic in concept, how does it actually feel when you're roaming through it? Frankly, it's yet another chaotic mess. The game manages to combine the worst of Zelda's ideas with some of the most uninspired and underbaked indie isometric game design principles I've ever seen. It's genuinely nothing short of stunning. I have to commend the developer for making the world feel so miniscule yet such a chore to navigate at the same time. A feat that's doubly impressive when you consider just how small Tunic's world is.
The game is, of course, displayed with a 3/4th isometric perspective. This is a design choice with a long list of well-understood strengths and weaknesses--the style has been around nearly as long as the entire industry has. And yet…it feels like Shouldice failed to take any of that into consideration when designing Tunic.
The game aspires for the best of 2D Zelda's world design--the Link to the Past and Link's Awakening type of world. But its isometric qualities, combined with some head-scratching design choices, create a chaotic world that quickly becomes a pain to explore. If you want a basic overview of what I mean, pull up the Tunic overworld and compare it to the overworld from Link's Awakening while I talk.
Beyond the immediate difference in size, one thing that should catch your eye is just how vertical Tunic is compared to Zelda. And sure, you can certainly get much higher in Zelda…but when you think about the ratio between flat ground and elevations shifts, Tunic has it beat tenfold. Combine this with the fact that many paths are dead ends, and you get some of the most frustrating world traversal I've ever seen. You often find yourself walking from dead-end to dead end, or staring at the path you'd like to go down, only barred by the slightest difference in elevation you can't reconcile. It's completely lacking in all the finer nuances that makes exploration in a Zelda game feel so natural. Once again made impressive considering how tiny Tunic's world actually is--even compared to a Game Boy title from 1993.
You eventually receive a hookshot-esque ability to aid in world traversal, but that's only really a band-aid for the problem. For one, it doesn't magically reconcile the frustration you feel when you don't have the hookshot. For another, it doesn't fix the harsh truth: flat Tunic's overworld is dull at best--usually featuring only a few uninspired enemies to fight and basic structures to explore. It's not something you're going to be remembering like your first time in Hyrule.
And so, we once again return to the conceptual problems of cribbing the world of a Souls game without actually matching any of its interesting qualities. There's nothing to do, no one to see, no interesting places to visit, and no stakes to be had through exploration. The world is merely a vehicle to perform middling dodge-roll Bastion combat and solve "puzzles"--something you and I are going to have to tackle here in a second. Simply put, there is no adventure here, only frustration and boredom. An extra demerit for a soundtrack that is fine, but ultimately uninspired indie-game fanfare--ill-fitting for inspiring player wanderlust.
Basic Wisdom
But if there's one thing that any fan of Tunic will never fail to bring up, it's the game's oh-so-inspired puzzles and game manual. For many, this seems to be the game, or at least all they're willing to actually talk about from it. But it's here, maybe more than anywhere else, is where that Rorschach test comes in. More specifically, how each and every one of us interprets the concept of a puzzle as well as what we value in terms of interactive 'challenge.' So let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?
Tunic's puzzles are, in two words: purposefully obtuse. Which might make you scratch your head if you haven't played the game. Why would a developer want their puzzles to be perceived as obtuse? Isn't that usually seen as a negative trait? To understand, you have to go back to the root of Tunic's design philosophy: it mindlessly mimics what it thinks are the 'best' traits from other games. People love the classics--or, more realistically, pay lip-service to actually loving them--and everyone says hose games are Nintendo Hard, right? So if everyone loves Zelda, and Zelda is apparently obtuse, then we need to be obtuse too! Right? Well obviously Shouldice was wise enough to know that wouldn't quite fly in 2022. So once again, things were altered to fit the Tunic mold: for the worse yet again.
Tunic's puzzles are obtuse in ways that attempt to mimic the supposed 'spirit' of retro games, while giving you affordances to ensure you can feasibly solve them better than a kid in 1989 stuck with a copy of Simon's Quest. What sort of affordances you might ask? Well, mainly just a copy of Nintendo Power. Or to be more specific, the shittiest issue of Nintendo Power ever produced.
Players can collect 'pages' of the game's own instruction manual while exploring the world, (in theory) building up their knowledge of the game's mechanics and world as they adventure. But, as usual, Tunic shits the bed with the same mindless design quirks as before. For one, the manual isn't actually written in English (or your language of choice)…well at least not always written in English. It's written in English when it feels like it. Otherwise, it's written with the same cryptic language the NPCs and world signage use. And when I say 'otherwise,' I mean most of the fucking time.
So you're given this manual, that's apparently trying to mimic the feeling of cracking open a new Nintendo Power back in 1988, and you can't even read the damn thing.
Why? Because Tunic can't help itself.
You ever play one of those shitty indie horror games? I'm not going to name any names, but you know the ones. They're usually inspired by Creepypasta, found-footage cinema, and more recently Analog Horror. Consequently, much like their often amateur influences, these games can't help but pack in 'spooky' moments even when they don't make any goddamn sense. They're more focused on getting a cheap jump out of you than they are in designing a coherent (and frankly, engaging) world. Just think about all the Analog Horror videos out there. How many of them ruin what might be an otherwise interesting premise with some of the stupidest attempts to scare you with spooky text and freaky faces every five seconds? Even when those moments totally kill the mood, tone, or general pacing that would have greatly benefited their project? They just can't help themselves.
And in that same spirit, Tunic can't help itself either. It decided that it needs to pay homage to retro games ('pay homage' having more quotes around it than an antisemitic rant on 4chan) in every way possible. And it its mindless and desperate pursuit of this goal, all coherent design considerations get caught in the crossfire. So fuck it, the manual is apparently a bilingual disaster moonlighting as Schrodinger's instruction manual.
Have you considered the philosophical considerations here? The manual is…inside the game? When I pause the game, I see myself playing the game through a CRT? Why are there handle scribbled notes in the manual sometimes? Are we doing some postmodern meta-narrative play here? If so, why? What are we trying to say? Or better yet, what does all of this meaningfully give me as a consumer of this art? Well don't you worry buddy. I'm sure I sound like a broken record by now…but luckily for you, Shouldice seemingly failed consider any of this shit, so I guess you really don't have to either.
But I think you know the real answer as much as I do. It's the same 'why' used as a means for all of these godawful ends: nostalgia. Or to be more accurate (and to paraphrase James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame): "Borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties." It's meant to make you feel 'warm and fuzzy' inside. To give you some bastardized sense of wonder from your childhood. And for that, I truly hate Tunic. It's bereft of any real or admirable qualities. Its only real aim is to imitate and remind us of other, better things. It truly has nothing to say with its own merits, on any level.
And you gotta understand, I agree this would sound nitty-picky as fuck if not for the fact that the entire fucking point of the game is the goddamn manual. Without it, we only have yet more uninspired indie slop that lies somewhere on the Bermuda Tringle between Bastion, Zelda, and Dark Souls. So we're going to have to scrutinize the game for these elements--god knows the combat design offers nothing worth mentioning. So anyways, back to the actual puzzles.
When I said 'purposefully obtuse' earlier, I didn't just mean that you'd require a game manual to solve puzzles--although you will need the manual to solve the most important puzzles in the game. I also meant it in the sense that Tunic's puzzles will challenge critical players in ways they probably haven't been challenged in for a long time. Not because the puzzles are particularly difficult. I mean, the notion of a puzzle's 'difficulty' is incredibly vague and abstract to begin with. But instead, I mean that these puzzles will challenge you because they'll make you consider why we even have game puzzles in the first place.
Think about that for a second. Genuinely. Why do we even have puzzles in games? How come I have to figure out which wall to bomb in a Zelda dungeon? What torch to light? What lever to pull? What exactly am I getting out of these experiences--both from the perspective of recreational play and critical engagement? There's no correct answer to this question--it's for all of us to decide. But I think it's important to consider your own reasons why, and how games like Tunic (do or don't) fail to live up to those expectations.
For some, the fun is in the art of the puzzle itself. It doesn't really matter the context--the how or why of the thing. All that matters is how much you have to wrestle with the bastard to suss out the answer. For these kinds of people, the joy of the puzzle is all about the thrill of the hunt. You probably aren't one of these kinds of people--but you definitely know at least a few folks like this. The kinds of people who do complex logic puzzles, crosswords, riddles, and whatever else on a daily basis. The kind of person who'd probably also annoy you with those puzzles on a daily basis too (sorry Joel, but I know you ain't readin' this shit anyways). Sometimes this kind of person grows up to be a good mathematician or scientist--and that's cool. We all oughta respect that desire and pursuit for the unknowns of human knowledge.
But I don't fit into that category, despite my background in mathematics, language, and computer science--all fields fraught with these sorts of people. At least, I don't fit into that background when it comes to how I value games. Let me explain why.
I find that puzzles are often the weakest part of any game I play. And no, it's not because I get my ass kicked by them…although sometimes I do get my ass kicked by them. It's because nearly all puzzles are, by definition, built upon layers and layers of arbitrary societal constructs and very fuzzy logic. Puzzles are made by humans, for humans. Which means that many of them will have lots of local cultural and societal values inherently encoded into them.
How to Make an Adventure Map!
You ever heard of Nuclear Semiotics? Now there's a real interesting puzzle if there ever was one. If you're not aware, I'll clue you in real quick. Sorry to turn into the guy I was just describing above, but this'll all make sense in a moment.
So we've got all this nuclear waste that we've been making over the last century. Obviously that stuff isn't going anywhere anytime soon--and we're probably going to keep making more of it too. You obviously know nuclear stuff is extremely deadly…but how did you know that? Are there any actual innate traits of nuclear waste that tell you that it's deadly? No, there aren't. You only know it's going to kill you because someone else told you that. So let's say its eight thousand years from now: everything you know and love is gone--all the language, culture, beliefs, and (most importantly) scientific knowledge…gone. Some blokes go digging where they shouldn't and end up stumbling upon nuclear waste. How do we, the great people of 2023--kickin' back at home and playing Tunic--leave behind messages to warn people waaaaaaaaaaaaay into the future to stay the hell away from nuclear waste and not get everyone killed?
It might sound like a simple problem to you, but it's actually a damn hard one. You could give some simple answers like using 'basic symbols' and 'universal warning signs' to deter people, but what the hell is universal or basic? We can't even begin to predict what culture is going to be like thousands of years from now. Want to use a symbol of a skull? There are already cultures that associate skulls with positive concepts. A nuclear radiation symbol? We made that shit up in the 40s--it has no clear or inherent meaning baked into it. For all intents and purposes, the people of the far-flung future might as well be total aliens to us. And when you sit down and try to actually tackle this problem, you realize how difficult it is to get across just about anything without a clear sense of shared culture that bind together meaning.
So let me tie this back to video game puzzles. Think about that one puzzle you fucking hate. You know the one. The one that kept you going for hours. The one that pissed you off so much that you wouldn't even look it up. That bastard was challenging you--and you were not about to back down. Maybe after hours of trying every possible solution, every possible option, you finally get it…at long last. Maybe you overlooked some now obvious part of the puzzle, or maybe it really was just total horseshit.
But consider this: even if that puzzle was totally unfair to you, was it really bullshit for everyone else? Even for the person who designed it? Obviously the answer is "no." That puzzle made perfect sense to someone else. I bet if you had a friend in the room watching you struggle, they probably figured the damn thing out in ten seconds. Hell, you've probably been in that seat before too. Puzzles are a part of our collective culture. They only start to make sense when you can intuit how the designer might be thinking. You have to be on the same wavelength. Obviously we're never synced up with perfectly, but there's enough overlap to make everything work, even if it means there's a lot of jank in the process. But without shared culture, almost all puzzles begin to fall apart. Remember: even logic itself is an arbitrary human construct--one bound by cultural and societal understandings. Remember: numbers ain't even real. Only the most brilliant of puzzle games (Tetris, Portal) can come close to escaping these issues--because they rely on basic human intuition (geometric and physical, in this case).
So consider the nightmare scenario: a game where every single puzzle was one of those puzzles for you, and only you. Your buddy beat the game in six hours while it takes you sixty. Let's call this game Kings Quest. You can probably take one or two of those types of puzzles in a game--even if it greatly detracts from your enjoyment--but do you think you could really stomach a whole game's worth? How would you even review it? Would you just spend the entire write-up saying the puzzles were 'unfair' or 'arbitrary?' What will you have to say when KingsQuestLover77 leaves a snide comment implying you're a 'fucking moron?'
I'm making a worst case scenario here to illustrate my point, but let's also consider the opposite case too. Imagine, if you will, the Perfect Puzzle. Capital P and all. What exactly does that puzzle look like to you? Maybe you can't picture the actual puzzle itself, but we can flatten the question down into a lower dimension to make things easier: What does the difficulty curve of the Perfect Puzzle look like to you? How long would it take you to solve it? How much would you have to struggle to make it feel worth it? What parts of your intelligence is that puzzle challenging? What's your reward for solving the puzzle?
It's not hard to understand why I'm so critical of puzzle design when you think about these conceptual launching points. Puzzles are a minefield with infinite pitfalls. A real philosophic nightmare. You might be starting to wonder how I manage to stomach any games focused on puzzles. I mean, I've given plenty of Zelda games the five-star rating--how does that make any sense? And more importantly, why do those games get a pass while Tunic gets the unhinged review? I think the answer is pretty simple. Zelda games (and the like) don't actually have 'real' puzzles--they just make us think we're solving puzzles.
Zelda is--obviously--an adventure game series set in a fantastical world. That distinct sense of grand fantasy and adventure helped Zelda stand out from the crowd back in the day. You could probably say the same thing about similar successful competitors like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy too. Jumping around as Mario or doing sick flips in Excitebike was cool, but it was undeniable that audiences would want something deeper. Something more…immersive. Games are an expression of play, after all--and it would only be a matter of time before role playing took off in the (home console) video gaming space too. But Zelda, of course, was different. While DQ and FF had you fumbling through turn-based battles and RPG stat screens to enact a sense of heroic combat, Zelda immersed you directly into the fights. It certainly wasn't revolutionary in this regard--it stood on the shoulders of greats like Tower of Druaga and Hydlide--but it presented the action role-playing game with a level of ease, polish, and immersion that we hadn't seen up to that point.
In other words, Zelda took something that was inaccessible to us--being a bold adventurer braving uncharted territory--and allowed the average joe to really pretend they were one. It's easy to understand that we're not actually kicking ass when we press a single button to engage in life-or-death combat (although goddamn it, it can really feel like it sometimes). But it's perhaps a little less obvious to understand how Zelda has crafted dungeon puzzles to elicit the same response from us. Instead of requiring any true problem solving--like we'd consider a good riddle or puzzle would--Zelda (and its derivatives) only ask you to go down a (very short) list of possible answers for any given problem. Take Ocarina of Time for an example. When confronted with a problem, the answer is always going involve one of a few things:
1) Bombing a wall
2) Lighting a torch
3) Hitting an object
4) Pressing a switch
5) Moving a block/object
6) Killing an enemy
With this very short list, we've probably cracked 90% of the puzzles you'd find in any Zelda game. If you expand the list to ten possibilities (to include a few of the funkier edge cases) we'd probably get nearly every puzzle in every game in the entire franchise.
Obviously all puzzles in a computer game exist within a bounded set of possible answers--(real) computers aren't infinite after all. But Zelda has successfully maintained decades of broad appeal (critically and commercially) by basically removing the critical thinking element from the equation. Just as you press a single button to slay your foes, you don't actually find ingenious solutions to puzzles--you're just role playing as a guy who does.
And so, Zelda pulls off an impressive hat trick--It makes you feel smart for solving puzzles, but in reality, you were performing a very shallow knowledge check. A knowledge check so simple that even a small child could figure it all out. This might be exactly why you aren't into Zelda…but wouldn't you agree that's the beauty of the series? It's a franchise that just about anyone could enjoy. It solves the philosophical quandaries I laid out by essentially side-stepping the question entirely. They aren't really puzzles--or at least not really good puzzles. They just require you to learn a simple design language--one that's so intuitive that just about anyone could become fluent within hours. Kids and casuals and get on board easily, perhaps finding a moderate challenge, while hardcore players can enjoy the simple and smooth satisfaction of blastin' through puzzles like you're some kind of gamer Einstein.
My distinction between Zelda puzzles and a 'good puzzle' might still seem fuzzy to you. Let me try and elaborate with another point. A 'good' puzzle wouldn't be something everyone could solve…right? If a puzzle had a success rate of near 100%, then we'd all probably find it too trivial to enjoy. A good puzzle is non-trivial--meaning that plenty of people are gonna get stumped in the process. Let's say for the sake of argument that…I don't know…the puzzle has a solve rate of 40%. This would be all well and good in real life--but what about in games?
Think about it for a second.
Imagine you're back in the time period Tunic wishes it were found in. Maybe you're too broke to afford a copy of this month's Nintendo Power and you don't have any friends at school who bought the same wack-ass Zelda knock-off you did. No one is going to help you when that almighty 40% filter makes you call uncle. So what do you do? You either drop the game entirely or suffer until you brute force a solution--maybe coming to hate the game in the process. This is, by most game designers' account, a failure of a puzzle. Now imagine a game that's filled with 'em. Suddenly, you're back to the nightmare scenario I laid out just a few minutes ago. When you get stumped by a puzzle in game…that's it, game over.
When you chew on this thought for a second, it doesn't take long for something to become obvious: Non-trivial puzzles--which must contain 'good' puzzles as a subset--are a self-destructive aspect of any genre of video game.
Consider this: which genre was the poster boy for 'real' puzzles? There's only one good answer: the point-and-click/adventure game. If you're somehow reading this review fifteen years from now, I wouldn't blame you for missing the answer. You probably haven't played any games in the genre. Why? Well, because as the legendary Old Man Murray (later known as the writing duo behind Portal) pointed out in their 2000 writeup Death of Adventure Games, the adventure game genre "committed suicide" about twenty years before my time of writing. How? By endlessly aspiring to greater heights of puzzle complexity--pissing off nearly everyone in the process.
This isn't to say that games can't be bereft of conventional puzzles--but they often have to take a clear back-seat to other elements that strongly draw gamers in. The short lived point-and-click game revival of the 2010s was carried on the back of recognizable properties (Walking Dead, Back to the Future, Fables, Minecraft) and a heavy emphasis on narrative--not puzzle-based qualities. Sure, Gabriel Knight certainly had a narrative…but I think I know why most people were playing Walking Dead instead. Even then, it only took a few years before this entire ecosystem also collapsed in on itself. It seems at this point that the only games completely able to escape this black hole are the Ace Attorney, and Danganronpa series. But once again I'd argue these games are being carried entirely by a vivid cast of characters and memorable narratives, not their puzzles. Forget sex--fandoms sell, baby.
It's clear then that I'm saying Tunic doesn't follow that Zelda formula, right? Right. Instead, understanding its puzzles requires us to confront the final third of Tunic's influence brew. Its secret sauce, if you will: Fez.
Go North Young Man!
Man, remember Fez? It's been over a decade since that game took the industry by storm. And when I say 'by storm' I mean like a goddamn hurricane. It feels silly looking back on it now, but you'd swear Phil Fish's short and tyrannical reign on the throne of indie gamedom was going to blow away everything not welded to the foundations. Of course, Fish's antics--combined with the toll that Fez took on him--would lead to his self-exile. But it's wild to think about just what sort of state the gaming world (and the internet at large) was in back then. Considering the heinous shit we've seen from other 'old man indie' luminaries like Notch (Supernazi) and Johnathan Blow (Antivaxxer) in recent years, it even makes me nostalgic for the time when the most controversial thing to come out of an indie dev's mouth was "suck my dick."
But anyways…Fez. Do you like Fez? I really don't. Well, to be fair, I haven't played it since launch--and I wasn't even a teenager then--so who knows what the hell I'd think about it today. But outside of a charming art style (one teetering on the edge of fatigue in a 2012 indie game era), I really didn't take away much from the game. But no matter who you are--a Fez enjoyer or not--I can guarantee you'd agree that Tunic is no Fez. Much like the other two key pieces of this puzzle, Tunic barely manages a pale imitation of Fez. On average, Tunic's idea of exploration and puzzle solving is to just have you walk behind objects that obscure your vision (thanks to the isometric perspective) and…whabam! You found a thing! Sometimes it even breaks its own rule--randomly rotating the camera when you get to an arbitrary location to reveal a bunch of hidden stuff where you couldn't see it. It doesn't really make sense in isolation--considering you have no meaningful control of the camera anywhere else in the game. But when you consider the Fez angle, it starts to make a lot more sense: the game is half-assedly biting Fez just like it half-assedly bites Zelda and Dark Souls.
Of course those are just the trivial puzzles--not the real star of the show. For beating this game…really beating it, is going to require a lot more out of you. Much like Fez, Tunic turns to proper puzzles and bona fide code deciphering in its final hours. And here, we return to the problem of the proper puzzle. Many of Tunic's greatest brain-busters are puzzles for the sake of puzzles--not puzzles for the sake of gameplay. Most of them require you to recognize cyphers described both within the game's manual and within the game's world--making you connect the dots between the two in order to solve a given riddle. It might sound interesting, but it usually just adds up to recognizing that a door, material, or wall has a geometric pattern on it. Then you stand by the pattern, input that same pattern on your d-pad (a-la an old-fashioned a cheat code) and…puzzle solved. It might sound trivial, but it's often not--requiring you to hyper scrutinize details of the world in order to infer the patterns required for solving the puzzle.
And don't get me wrong, if you're a fan of real puzzles then you'll probably get a kick out of this--much like you probably would with Fez and a handful of other games. But I still think there's a catch, even if you actually are one of those people. I'm almost certain you'll find the puzzles ultimately lacking compared to ones you'd find outside of video games. Frankly the fact that it is a video game is what holds them back. Not to say that a game couldn't achieve those pure and spectacular puzzle 'highs' that you desire--but it probably wouldn't have nearly enough mass appeal to get the game made in the first place. Games ultimately have to water themselves down in order to see any real release. After all, if the puzzles don't have a high solve rate, then people will probably hate 'em. I know I probably will.
But at some point Tunic's puzzles start to teeter on absurd for the rest of us. I'm out here scrutinizing the patterns of flowers on the ground--furiously mashing inputs into my d-pad trying to guess exactly what the hell the game wants out of me. And the whole time I'm thinking…
"All of this is in service of what, exactly?" Why am I trying to decipher nearly every object in the game for arbitrary patterns that may or may not exist? What am I actually getting out of this?"
It's not making me feel more like an adventurer exploring some mysterious dungeon, nor is it making me feel particularly smart either. It's a puzzle for the sake of the puzzle--and I'm just not into that, nor do I think most other people are either.
This all culminates with perhaps the most ridiculous puzzle I've ever encountered in a game--the final puzzle needed to unlock Tunic's 'true ending'. In essence, it requires you to examine every single page of the manual for a symbol that looks like an arrow sign (or some other indication of directionality). After discovering all one hundred of these symbols, you need to stand before a door and input all one-hundred directions in a row, perfectly. That might not sound that bad to you…but when you're sitting there, trying to actually input the answer…it really sells the absurdity of it all. It'll start to make you go insane if you're not careful.
I'm the kind of guy who gets mixed up if I have to pull a specific digit out of a string of ten numbers. Imagine trying to make sure you didn't misinput direction number fucking 74 out of 100. Moreover, imagine accidentally writing down the wrong direction for only one of the fucking hundred you need input. It's nothing short of pure madness.
Seriously, it's the kind of puzzle that'll bring your faith in gaming to its knees. You'll wonder what you're doing there. You'll wonder why you're struggling through all of this. You'll wonder what the gain is. And I don't just mean some sort of superfluous in-game reward--you'll start questioning what the hell you're doing manipulating a plastic toy when you've only got so many seconds left on this fleeting earth. And for that, I'm almost impressed in Tunic's ability to induce a gamer existential crisis like it was David Lynch's Rabbits.
And so, it's here that Tunic fails more than in any other design category. The puzzles are either too trivial or too arbitrary--with both ends of the spectrum being a shittier version of Fez. More importantly, none of the puzzle solving is really being done in the name of the game--it's being done for the sake of the puzzle. Of course, most players--including many fellow reviewers on this same page--will never have to reconcile with any of this. They either played the base game (without attempting to get the proper ending) or simply looked up solutions with a walkthrough. I've certainly used my fair share of walkthroughs before--sometimes it'd be a fool's errand not to--but you have to ask yourself something here. If I'm not playing Tunic for these puzzles--the entire purpose of the game's manual, it's central gimmick--then what the hell am I here for? The boring and uninspired world? The hyper-derivative and banal combat? The cute fox? In every sense, Tunic has failed me.
The Magic and the Mystery
But to simply fail would only get you so much ire--at least from me. There are plenty of failures that won't illicit my backloggd version of the Ninety-Five Theses. Tunic goes one step further. There's something deep in there--something that reviles me beyond its collection of underthought influences. It's really the entire framing of the thing that sends me over the edge.
Tunic isn't just another indie game--although it is also just another indie game. Tunic is really a twisted ode to retro gaming, childhood wanderlust, and nostalgia.
And I say 'twisted' because Tunic doesn't operate with the premises underlining the real retro games it seeks to emulate. It's instead based on the underinformed perception the general public has of those games. And when I say general public, I don't just mean your mom and pop. It seems this category has grown to encompass people within the gaming industry that I hoped would know better--professional critics. Hell, based on the response on this page, it looks like it also includes much of the enthusiast community as well.
A common selling point I've seen thrown around is how Tunic brilliantly interweaves its manual into the game--something we tackled in the previous section. But another point of praise I've seen rewarded is how it so authentically captures the magical feeling of being a child playing an NES game like Zelda. It 'understands' the retro gaming condition and masterfully interweaves it into the game's world and puzzle design. Tunic, in a sense, becomes retro gaming. Or perhaps it even goes beyond retro gaming and becomes a towering love letter to the 'magic' of gaming.
This line of thinking makes a sort of sense. But it falls apart when you scrutinize it for more than five seconds. Let's try to consider for a second where this supposed 'difficulty' came from--that dreaded Nintendo Hard.
Console game designers were primarily coming directly from the arcade industry--and the veterans among them came from the electromechanical amusement industry, a group preceding video gaming itself. It comes as no surprise then that arcades absorbed the concept of difficulty curves from their big brother electromechanical games. Specifically, EM games taught video gaming about the art of the quarter-muncher. No good carnival game lasts more than a few minutes--and neither would Pac-Man if you weren't particularly good at it.
The very early days of console gaming saw mainly arcade ports, but designers would start to overhaul their design language as they realized the virtues inherent to home gaming. This great transition would be a time of reckoning for many--as game designers were unsure of what was 'too hard' or 'too cryptic' considering the sharp change of venue. After all, if you were essentially being given infinite 'free play' access at home (once you bought the damn thing at the local Sears), so how much difficulty was really too much? It was a venerable wild west--one that would rise and fall roughly during the height of the Famicom's success. Or--to be more American-centric--during the introduction of the NES to innocent, unsuspecting American children.
One thing was certain though--a lot of games from this period were total junk. There really wasn't much in the way of 'baseline' quality for many consumers (and designers), so just about anything went. It wasn't just the fault of publishers like LJN or Konami's shell company Ultra Games either. Nintendo's own games sometimes wouldn't make the cut for international release. So if even developers like Tezuka were going insane, then who would stick their neck out for the little guy? It ended up being the marketing and PR department's job to smooth over these rough spots. And so, publications like Nintendo Power (or the now-infamous Nintendo Power Line) were created, mythical figures like Howard Philips and Gail Tilden were immortalized, and game manuals were fastidiously designed to support kids and provide the last line of defense from angry parents demanding refunds.
But you gotta remember that these games--the types that James Rolfe and co. would later immortalize--were really more the exception than the rule. If you don't believe me, go check any list of the best-selling NES games and how many games you find associated with this mythos. Hell, the king of them all--Simon's Quest--couldn't even crack the top 75 best-selling NES games. The reality is unfortunately a lot less interesting: you'll find five Excitebikes or Kung-Fus for every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. More importantly, you'll see fifteen Ice Hockeys for every Zelda. The world of 'retro game' that Tunic invents--and that players swear to remember--didn't really exist as a cohesive ecosystem in the first place. Games outside of Zelda that get associated with the 'magic and mystery' of fantasy lore--Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, etc.--basically sold next to nothing in the states. Dragon Quest, (or Dragon Warrior as it was retitled in the US) did so poorly that Nintendo of America had to start randomly shipping copies to kids for free in hopes that they would get hooked on it. I'm sure you can guess how well that strategy worked.
But you know what? Maybe that's being a little too nitpicky of me. Zelda did exist, after all. It's one of the ten best-selling NES games too--despite getting it's ass whooped by Duck Hunt and being given a run for its money by the likes of Dr. Mario. So why don't we narrow down the lens of scrutiny to just Zelda then? Tunic is just a few slight visual changes away from being charged with copyright infringement anyways, so let's pit the two against each other in the ring.
If you're still reading, it won't surprise you to hear that Tunic also fails to reasonably emulate the Zelda experience in any notable way. If you want to get a better idea of what I mean, pull up the Legend of Zelda game manual and the Tunic manual too.
There appears to be a lot of similarities from a surface level--both manuals start off with a plot overview, basic controls, and some general mechanics. But, if you're old enough to have enjoyed game manuals you'll probably recognize that's nothing particularly unique to Zelda or even adventure gaming.
Things start to get interesting in the later portions of the manual. In the case of Zelda, a lot of time is spent painstakingly explaining nearly every aspect of the game in clear prose--the overworld, dungeons, enemies, items, interactions, etc. It might seem like overkill now, but you gotta remember: this was a different time. It was a time where customers might have never touched a video game before slapping down $49.99 on yours (that's nearly one hundred and forty big ones today!!). You kind of had to pour over each facet of the game in meticulous detail. And so, Zelda clues you in on every single enemy--what they are, what they do, and how they're gonna fuck you up. Not to mention info on how every single item works in clear English. There is no mystery here, it's damn near encyclopedic.
But of course, items and enemies are only one part of the equation. The exploration is where it's at anyways, right? Well, yes and no. In truth, Zelda does what every other adventure contemporary did in this era. Fearing a negative response from novice and confused gamers, the Zelda manual just straight up tells you exactly where to go and what to do for a sizable chunk of the game's content. The locations of the first two dungeons are spelled out for you perfectly--as well as complete maps of those dungeons: locations of items, enemies, and all. The overworld map is nearly filled out in its entirety. It even shows you the location of about half the dungeons and almost every other location of interest.

Of course that isn't the whole game--it's perhaps 70% of a game guide--but I think the difference is clear. Zelda is about immersing yourself in the role of a hero on a grand adventure. The series has continuously updated and expanded every facet of itself--just compare Zelda to Ocarina to Breath of the Wild--but it's always been oriented around that core idea. Everything Zelda does is in service of that idea. And don't get me wrong. Man, does it often stumble to reach those great heights. Be it the tedium found in Wind Waker's sailing or in being forced into Link's boot wardrobe every five seconds in Ocarina's infamous Water Temple. But despite all the hangups, I've never once felt that Zelda has deviated from that noble goal. From the characters, to the worlds, to the dungeons, to the combat, to the puzzles--Zelda has only found meaningful competition through its clunkier, nerdier western cousin The Elder Scrolls.
And yet, with Tunic, I feel none of that. I only feel an insistence on a meta-awareness of gaming itself. A juvenile postmodern framing. A smokescreen that tries to distract from the game's clear shortcomings.
But here's the rub…what really gets me:
Tunic's referential nature only serves to position criticisms of the game--narrative or mechanical--as a feature of retro gaming itself.
It's not that the story is underbaked, or that the world is non-existent, or that the combat is tedious, or that the puzzles are trite--it's actually just a reference to a different video game! Of course, don't ask Shouldice, Finji, or their lawyers what those specific references actually are…but I think you get the idea.
It's actually pretty crazy when you think about it. Not only were these adventure games not even that representative of retro games as a whole--Tunic fails to even represent the few adventure games it claims made up the era. Hell, more than that: what it takes from those few games are the worst elements of those games and the surface-level aesthetics that bind them together. It's as if Shouldice saw the infamous Tornado puzzle in Simon's Quest or Link's roleplay of Moses in The Legend of Zelda and confused his 'how (not) to make a good game' notebooks.

But now that I've laid all this down, lets return to my original question: why do we even have puzzles in games? Based on what I've said, I think the answer for Zelda is clear--it's to deepen the fantasy/adventure role-playing experience. You could argue that Tunic is also using puzzles to perform a sort of role play though--the nostalgic role-playing experience.
That's right. If games like Zelda and Dark Souls are all about stepping into the shoes of an adventurer exploring a grand world, Tunic is about stepping into the shoes of a child exploring games like Zelda or Dark Souls for the first time.
That's kinda fucked, innit? It's culture eating itself--the worst elements of lazy postmodern art. It's metanarrative without anything substantial to say or any real emotions to explore. It just wants to abuse the monkey part of your brain that reminds you of your childhood--or at least the good parts of it. I don't know about you, but I hate that shit. What would you rather be: Link, rippin through Hyrule and kickin' ass? Or a child failing to input a one-hundred fucking string cheat code just to see an ending about how your fox mommy loves you? I'll take the here-and-now over the cheap nostalgia any day.
As full-time mob boss and part-time gamer Tony Soprano once said:
"'Remember when?' is the lowest form of conversation."
Bet you weren't expecting to see a fucking Sopranos quote in the middle of a Tunic review, were ya?
Beyond being trite, Tunic manages to bring down retro gaming too. It reifies a rich and complex history into a few minor points that read more like slights than praises. It also fundamentally misunderstands what makes the classics classic: the intelligent use of abstraction, the immediacy of gameplay, the mechanical focus, the player/avatar cohesion/immersion, and the constant desire to break boundaries.
A great game is like any other great piece of art--it comes with no reservations. It doesn't matter that Metropolis is a near hundred years old black and white silent film, or that Ferdowsi wrote Shahnameh a thousand years ago--good art is good art is good art.
Contemporary media can often give us tunnel vision. There's a reason historians like to wait for their subjects to be 'good and dead' for analysis. But underneath all of the pomp and circumstance is a set of mechanical, thematic, aesthetic, and narrative ideas. Doesn't matter if you're dodging a big ape throwing barrels or clawing your way through Seattle on a crafting-based-stealth-action-open-world-narrative-heavy-third-person-over-the-shoulder-shooter revenge quest in Ultra-8K 144FPS glory. One is Donkey Kong and one is Space Invaders with many…many coats of paint thrown on top.
Don't get me wrong, that isn't meant as a dig towards modern games (although there's a billion other reasons to slight The Last of Us: Part II). There's still plenty of new games that I would call high points --albeit found more-often-than-not in the indie scene. I'm more slighting the notion of a 'retro game' in itself. It's a notion that I think most people--casual, hardcore, and professional--have bought into hook, line, and sinker. A notion that often boils down many great pieces of art as 'old, plain, and simple.' The type of game Nintendo throws in for free with your online subscription. The ones you'll load up and play for five minutes before going back to whatever rouge-like-open-world-gatcha-survivors-asynchronous-battle-royale-souls-like-idle-dad-based-narrative-as-a-service game you're into at the moment.
And so, Tunic becomes a Rorschach test one last time:
When you look at 'retro games,' what do you see?
When you look at 'modern games,' what do you see?
I want to make it clear that I'm not complaining about the state of things. That's just as pointless as Scorsese (or whoever's done it this week) complaining that Marvel movies aren't 'real' cinema or whatever. I understand that some people are gonna care about the good shit--regardless of its provenance--and some people are only gonna care about what they can buy at Gamestop. That's fine.
My problem is when games like Tunic come along, and actively misrepresent gaming. When they boil it down and present a reality that never truly existed. Or when uncritical professional voices champion that misrepresentation on the written record and inadvertently canonize it. It's a trend I've been seeing a lot in new metacontextual media. Final Fantasy VII: Remake and Half Life: Alyx literally re-write their canon in real time too--shifting public perception of those original games as they go. It's a damn shame for a medium as young and historically misunderstood as our own.
But it's a cycle most people are more than willing to play into. After all, you were there also--watching one of those shitty directs just like I was. I hope you're looking forward to the next uninspired Zelda and Dark Souls 'retro-throwback' that'll have nothing to offer you but some shallow aesthetic pandering and puzzles ripped from the 'MENSA Exam Prep' workbooks.
I also hope the critics out there have just as much fun writing and talking about those games as I presume you and I do reading and listening to them.
Actually side-note: do you really read professional game reviews? Or do you just scan the metacritic page? I'm actually curious who reads these full IGN etc. reviews anymore. These days I feel like I'm more inclined to see what random strangers have to say here than from gaming's fourth estate.
But hell, who am I to talk? I'm doing this shit for free. I just pray in twenty-five years we aren't getting "retro throwback" games based around the indie game golden age that Tunic is proud to be a part of.
But if we've learned anything today, it's that gaming history is more 'doomed to repeat itself' than it is to actually understand itself. So, I'll do my best Laura Palmer impression in the meantime:
I'll see you again in 25 years.

Tunic segue uma premissa aparentemente humilde: ser uma homenagem aos Zeldas da era 2D, como A Link to the Past, mas com gráficos 3D em perspectiva semifixa tal qual Link’s Awakening. Não é salutar usar comparativos com outros jogos como descrição, mas me refiro à parte estética aqui.
Mas mesmo assim, quando a proposta é reproduzir algo já existente, se torna difícil não buscar nas referências os elementos que se quer utilizar seja para criar, seja para analisar.
Nessa linha, Tunic é bastante consciente que almeja seja um “zeldinha”, como carinhosamente se chamam os Zeldas 2D. O design segue a linha de exploração de um mundinho cheio de segredos a serem descobertos via exploração e resolução de quebra-cabeças, com masmorras e cavernas, templos e construções antigas repletas de mistérios.
Mas contudo, Tunic não se limita a copiar as referências. Muito pelo contrário. A proposta aparentemente manjada toma cores extras quando se adiciona elementos de outros jogos na mixagem e uma única ideia nova é capaz de trazer inovação suficiente pra não aparentar ser uma mera iteração de uma franquia.
A estrutura basilar do jogo segue a linha de Zelda, mas temos a adição de um combate mais mortal e metódico, que naturalmente faz lembrar jogos como Souls. Há energia a se gerenciar ao bloquear ou esquivar, além do HP recuperado com poções finitas recarregáveis em altares que reposicionam todos os inimigos comuns derrotados. Se lembra Souls, tem fundamento. O funcionamento é similar às famosas bonfires, as fogueiras que se tornaram um pilar característico dos jogos souls e similares da From Software e de outros títulos que se baseiam nesse modelo.
Temos então em matéria de estrutura e design um misto saudável de Zelda e Souls, duas franquias absurdamente aclamadas e idolatradas por fãs ao redor do mundo. Como então criar algo novo com tanta bagagem e olhos famintos?
Andrew Shouldice, designer de Tunic, teve a brilhante ideia de incluir no jogo, como metalinguagem e como mecânica, um manual de instruções que lembra os que outrora vinha como encarte nos jogos físicos. O manual contém instruções de como jogar, descrição de alguns itens e detalhamento de mapas e progressão no jogo, além de segredos.
Mas…que língua é essa? Ao invés de estar redigido em uma língua conhecida, o designer optou por criar um alfabeto próprio para o jogo. Ele segue uma lógica própria que cabe à comunidade (impossível solucionar sozinho, a menos que vc seja um linguista) traduzir por completo. Mas isso não é necessário para compreendê-lo.
Shouldice teve a genialidade de desenvolver o próprio manual como um grande quebra-cabeça, onde algumas palavras chave são escritas em línguas conhecidas (aí vai depender de que língua vc está jogando) e se misturam com ícones e demais símbolos que carregam significado mesmo sem recorrer à verbalização propriamente dita.
E é por meio de uma interação constante com o mundo virtual de Tunic e com o manual que está desmontado e incompleto que o jogador precisa avançar no jogo para coletar mais e mais páginas e obter mais pistas de como progredir. Talvez essa tarefa se mostre demasiadamente árdua para jogadores que não gostam de quebra-cabeças e prefiram algo mais leve.
Isso porque o nível de quebra-cabeça é relativamente alto, o que colabora para que o jogo tenha momentos “eureca” constantes e extremamente gratificantes, ao custo de alienar aqueles que não conseguirem solucionar seus enigmas. Isso não impede de se divertir, porque mesmo que o jogador não consiga resolver por si só, no ambiente de jogo moderno é fácil pegar dicas ou respostas diretas com inúmeros guias ou comunidades, além de ter a própria progressão nas dungeons que envolve combate, exploração e alguns quebra-cabeça mais simples.
Com dois finais possíveis, Tunic oferece ao jogador um encerramento mais doloroso por meio de combate, ou algo diferente caso ele se disponha a desvendar os maiores segredos do jogo. Para tanto, o próprio dev fez anotações e escondeu à plena vista dicas e pistas para conseguir triunfar.
Alguns desses desafios são mais complicados de se solucionar sozinho, então quem é averso a buscar ajuda externa talvez tenha uma experiência não tão agradável pela natureza de alguns enigmas. Colegas de crítica apontaram que a dificuldade dos quebra-cabeças na parte final do jogo lhes trouxe frustração, então se eu puder deixar uma só dica ela é: não se envergonhe de buscar ajuda, nem que seja pra receber conselhos indiretos. E na dúvida, pegue a resposta mesmo.

Really enjoyed the vibes. Combat difficulty curve was a bit wild and makes it harder for me to recommend, and I felt a bit frustrated at some of the bigger secrets of the game. But ultimately it's a very nice experience

muy original el tema del manual, me encanta el arte y me está gustando mucho, lo acabaré esta semana probablemente

the motherfuckers took that story about Hidetaka Miyazaki reading English-language fantasy novels, despite not understanding English, and just made a whole game out of the concept. truly a wonderfully enigmatic experience that's only really hampered by the difficulty spike when you hit the final act of the game.

fun and mysterious gem of a game that fully encapsulates the feeling of playing something in a language you don't understand with a manual you have to piece together yourself, it's quite the experience even though at times it can be a bit too cryptic